El amor

por Tanis Helliwell

por Tanis Helliwell El amor es probablemente el sentimiento más importante que podemos experimentar en nuestras vidas. Nos motiva a dar lo mejor que tenemos, y lo peor. Hay más libros, películas y canciones dedicadas a explorar el amor que a cualquier otro tema. Sabemos que los bebés que están más tiempo en brazos de sus padres y reciben más abrazos triunfan, y que los bebés privados de contacto humano se enferman e incluso mueren. En la adultez, continuamos esa búsqueda de relaciones amorosas, y si no las encontramos nos sentimos tristes y deprimidos.

Existen muchos tipos de amor, pero los tres principales que describen los antiguos griegos son Eros, Filiay Ágape. Es útil examinar estos términos para entender mejor las maneras en las que el amor afecta nuestras vidas.

Eros

Eros es el amor al cuerpo físico. Es la atracción sexual que sentimos por una persona en especial. Dispara nuestras hormonas y fluidos, y crea anhelo, lujuria, en el cuerpo físico. Eros también es sensual, y se presenta en los placeres corporales como disfrutar de un masaje, que nos rasquen los pies o nos acaricien la cabeza. Todas las formas de emprolijarnos, hacernos manicuras, pedicuras y hasta cortarnos el cabello son maneras de expresar Eros en la sociedad, y a veces es la única manera posible cuando no tenemos pareja.

Eros derriba la estabilidad emocional con la pasión y domina nuestra mente con pensamientos acerca del objeto de nuestro deseo. Puede causar estragos en nuestras vidas si abandonamos relaciones y trabajos estables por ir detrás de esa persona nueva que creemos amar. Es posible que esta etapa de amor erótico dure entre tres y seis meses, pero caray, ¡qué aventura! Durante este período proyectamos sobre esa persona todas las cualidades que nos gustaría que posea, y evitamos examinar en detalle cualquier característica ajena a nuestra fantasía.

Eros se presenta en distintos grados, desde un leve capricho hasta una intensidad pasional en donde sentimos que podríamos morir si la persona amada no siente lo mismo. Sin embargo, la carga erótica disminuye con el tiempo entre los amantes, y un día nos despertamos y descubrimos las características que habíamos ignorado en esta persona y comenzamos a reevaluar la relación. Surgen preguntas acerca de los valores, el estilo de vida y los amigos de nuestra pareja, y los examinamos para ver si encajan con los nuestros. De no ser así, la relación seguramente termine, aunque a veces el componente erótico sigue siendo fuerte y las personas se quedan en relaciones que no son sanas en otros aspectos. Sin embargo, si nos agradan las características de nuestro amante, entramos en la segunda etapa del amor, que en Grecia llaman filia.

Filia

Philia is the love we have for our family members and good friends. It is affectionate and platonic. It is love of the heart, not love of the gonads. When we think of the love we have for our mother, sister, brother, and both men and women friends we understand philia. This love transcends gender, age, and is a love of someone who is part of our circle, someone whom we love as a person, who feels known to us and with whom we share our personal lives. This love might also include a love of a dog, cat, or bird who is part of our family.

Arranged marriages in eastern countries very often start with philia love where spouses are chosen by the parents from families who share similar values and friendship. Most often the children have had neither sexual experience, nor erotic feelings for their spouse at the time of marriage, but over time erotic love may blossom from philia. Love in western countries is the opposite where individuals most often fall in love with eros and through time develop philia love. Interestingly, spouses in eastern countries appear to have as much success with loving marriages by starting relationships based on philia, as western countries do by starting relationships based on eros. It appears that philia is
important for long-term loving relationships.

Ágape

There is a third kind of love. Agape is the love that God, The Creator, The Beloved, The Great Mother, and Spirit by all names, has for us and for all life. Agape is used in the New Testament of the Bible to describe the unconditional way in which God loves us and that we can emulate by loving others. It is defined by the Buddhist expression “Love all beings as you love your mother,” or as Jesus said, “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” At first glance these expressions might be confusing, as we have just said that philia is the term given to love of family members. However, with a deeper look we can see that both Buddha and Jesus are emphasizing unconditional love for all beings.

Agape love has neither the hot passion of eros, nor the conditional exclusivity and familiarity of philia. It is a more spiritual love than the other two, and has at its foundation the belief that all beings are one. When we love with agape, we do not kill others from a different country, religion, or way of life than ours. We hold all life as sacred and as an expression of spirit in its many forms. We may not like what someone is doing, but we still love him or her. Unlike philia and eros’s preferences and selectivity, agape has no preferences about whom or what it loves. Agape is altruistic, wide open and not
sentimental.

Agape is also known as the love of the soul and it is the love of a spiritual seeker, who loves God and does whatever it takes, be it dark nights or bliss, to unite with the divine. Agape is non-attached to results, and is committed to being love, fully in the present moment with whomever, and whatever, is occurring.

Eros, philia and agape are not mutually exclusive and we can love a person, and even the divine, with all three kinds of love. In our world we have a better understanding and experience of both eros and philia than we do of agape. Because agape is cooler and nonattached, it may not always be recognized as love.

Teachers who help us on our spiritual path practice agape. They might use both compassion and tough love with their students, in order to teach them agape, which is to love all beings as they love a beloved, a mother, or spirit.

All three forms of love motivate us to become better people. Through erotic love we experience the heights of ecstasy, and the depths of yearning and pain so that our hearts are cracked open to love more. Through philia love we learn forgiveness, patience, tolerance and endurance in committing to love another individual long-term. Through agape we develop unlimited compassion, faith and trust for all the ways in which spirit works through love in our world.

My poetry book, Embraced by Love, shares my thoughts on all of these types of love . Enjoy!